Program #0041 for Thursday, May 5, 2011: Osama bin Laden; Bl. John Paul; Apostolic Nuncio; School of Prayer

May 5, 2011

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Today’s host(s): Scot Landry and Susan Abbott

Today’s guest(s): Gregory Tracy, Managing Editor of The Pilot newspaper, and Father Roger Landry, Executive Editor of The Anchor newspaper.

Today’s topics: Catholic reaction to Osama bin Laden’s death; wrap-up of Bl. John Paul’s beatification; followup on MariaTalks.com; Apostolic Nuncio coming to Boston; Pope Benedict teaching us to pray

A summary of today’s show: Scot, Susan, Gregory, and Fr. Roger consider how Catholics should react to Osama bin Laden’s death, then switch gears to give a last look at the beatification of Bl. John Paul. In local news, the Mass. bishops spoke out on a controversial website, but the Governor refuses to act; the Pope’s representative the US is coming to Boston; and Pope Benedict begins a new teaching series on prayer.

1st segment: Scot welcomes Susan. She said last said Sunday a grandson received First Communion and this Saturday a granddaughter will receive First Communion at another parish. Bringing a child to the table of the Lord is best thing a parent can do for a child. For Mother’s Day, Scot asked her about her children and grandchildren: She has three daughters and 5 grandchildren locally and a son and another grandchild on the West Coast.

2nd segment:

Scot welcomes Gregory and Fr. Roger to the show. First thing Monday morning, Scot saw the news about Osama bin Laden and it became clear to him that he wasn’t sure how we’re supposed to respond as American Catholics. On the one hand, we’re happy he was no longer able to hurt innocents, but some of the celebrations seemed out of hand.

Fr. Roger said that as a Catholic we’re called to love even our enemies. In the case of a mass murderer, it’s very hard. In terms of those who want to harm the innocent, all those who have a duty to protect others need to do what’s possible to carry out that mission. If bloodless means are insufficient, then legitimate authority may use lethal force. If he had been imprisoned by the US, could he have been able to carry out harm just by his existence.

Scot asked Gregory what he thought of the Vatican’s statement that “in the face of a man’s death, a Christian never rejoices”? Gregory said it’s a question of rejoicing in his death. We can rejoice because the world is safer, but we cross a line when we celebrate the fact that someone had to die. If it’s necessary to sue deadly force then so be it, but it’s always a regrettable choice. Even Blessed John Paul II used to say that only if there’s another reasonable way to make society safe, then death is a possibility.

Susan said there was a lot to process in the news. She heard the news on Sunday night after having watched videos on the beatification and it was an odd juxtaposition. She had a sense of relief at the world being safer, but she goes back to Matthew 5:43 in which Christ calls us to love our enemy.

Scot reviewed the three conditions for an act within war to be morally justified:

First, the act must be good in itself. The use of force to obtain justice is morally licit in itself. Second, it must be done with a good intention, which as noted earlier must be to correct vice, to restore justice or to restrain evil, and not to inflict evil for its own sake. Thirdly, it must be appropriate in the circumstances. An act which may otherwise be good and well motivated can be sinful by reason of imprudent judgment and execution.

In this regard Just War doctrine gives certain conditions for the legitimate exercise of force, all of which must be met:

“1. the damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain;

  1. all other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective;

  2. there must be serious prospects of success;

  3. the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated. The power of modern means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition” [CCC 2309].

The other big question of debate on this news has been whether the White House should release the photos of Osama’s body. Fr. Roger said an important component of leadership is the virtue of prudence and making good judgment. Some people want photos for absolute proof of Osama’s death, but had Obama released the photos it could have poured fire on Muslim sentiments and created violence. On the other hand, if someone wants to think conspiratorially, there’s no proof that will ever be sufficient. So it’s not clear any good would be done by releasing them and it’s very clear that there would be harm.

Scot said when we thinks of places where Christians are a persecuted minority, their prayers were answered when the president didn’t release the photo. Susan said there would be no good result by releasing the photo. Gregory said he could see where the ground could laid for conspiracy theories and just because you can release a photo doesn’t mean you should. He uses that same judgment as a newspaper editor. There’s even still people who don’t think men have walked on the moon, so it would do nothing useful.

Scot said as a Catholic Christian, if we’re rejoicing at the world being a safer place, that’s good, but if we’re rejoicing at our revenge being completed on Osama, that’s too much, even though that’s a natural human response. Susan said that section in the Gospel of Matthew says we must be perfect as our Father is perfect and we’re called to be better than our human inclinations.

3rd segment:

Scot said we’ve talked a lot about the beatification, but it was a magnificent day starting with Saturday night’s vigil. Susan said in the Pope’s comments, you could the tremendous affection he had for his predecessor. The Pope also talked about Bl. John Paul’s prayer life, which seems to be a recurrent theme in all the talk about him. Susan said Bl. John Paul was also a real mensch, a skier, a playwright, someone who worked as a miner, was theologically brilliant, someone we can all emulate.

Scot said the cover photo in the Pilot this week of the immense crowd around St. Peter’s is one of his favorite photos in the Pilot ever. Gregory said it shows the 1.5 million to 2 million people present. He said the ceremony brought him back to John Paul’s funeral in 2005, at which he was present. It brought him back to see Pope Benedict XVI, who celebrated the funeral, to be there celebrating the beatification. The image of the casket inside St. Peter’s brought back thoughts of the casket on the steps of the basilica in 2005. He was also moved by Pope Benedict talking about the way that Pope John Paul let suffering into his life. Gregory had been at many of the World Youth Days and remembers chronicling his decline over the years. Pope Benedict said John Paul became more eloquent as he become more ill.

Fr. Roger said he woke at 4am on Sunday to watch the beatification and he was struck that he was watching his spiritual father receiving the greatest honor anyone ever can from God Himself. It was one of the most moving moments in his entire life and he rejoiced like he had never rejoiced before.

Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz told reporters that Pope John Paul’s entire life was prayer:

I am asked how many hours the Pope prayed. How many rosaries he said every day. I answer that he prayed with all his life. He always had the rosary with him, but above all he was united to God, a man of God, immersed in God.

Though people didn’t realize it, he always prayed for those who came to him, after conversations he prayed for the persons with whom he had spoken. The whole day began with prayer, meditation, and ended always with the blessing of his city, Rome. Always, when he could still walk, he went to the window; at the end, when he was very weak, he would ask “lift me” to see Rome again and to bless her. This was always the last gesture of every day to bless the people of Rome, his diocese.

Fr. Roger said the cardinal was always a welcoming man as the pope’s secretary, who called himself the moon to the Pope’s sun. He was clearly someone who loved and admired John Paul very much. Gregory said he was also struck by this interview which spoke to his interior life. In this article, the interviewer asks about a personal memory of John Paul. The cardinal responds:

I must say that I must discover him again. Discover him and perhaps still love him more. He was a man of great spiritual wealth, all that was within him. He rarely opened himself but people felt that something was within him. And today I see the need to discover this spiritual and also intellectual profundity. I esteemed him as a father and now I esteem him as a father and as a blessed.

4th segment:

Now following up to last week’s topic on the MariaTalks.com website. Last Friday, the bishops of Massachusetts issued a statement about the website and outlined five problems with the site:

[…] it promotes an overall message that sexual conduct for unmarried minors is acceptable whenever it “feels right.” Additionally, the website describes abortion in misleadingly opaque terms, touting the procedure as “easier than you think,” and emphasizes ways to obtain an abortion without parental knowledge. The website fails to acknowledge that many women, especially those undergoing an abortion in their teenage years, suffer long-term negative consequences. Furthermore, the website limits the list of available resources to organizations that advocate for or provide abortion and contraception.

Then end with a powerful comment:

We do not agree that the only choices available are limited to keeping the website running with tax dollars or doing nothing at all to address the problem of teen pregnancy. The state should work together with all sectors of the community, not just those with a vested interest in offering teens contraception and abortion, to find solutions that respect the dignity of young people and their capacity to make good and wholesome choices.

Susan said that as a taxpayer point-of-view spending $100,000 of scarce tax dollars is insane. As a commonwealth, we should be working together for the common good and this website does not. Susan quoted one of the legislators who pointed out that the site doesn’t even deal with girls who are victims of abuse, incest, or rape. She said the site sells our kids short.

Gregory said Gov. Deval Patrick has said the website will stay up, allowing only modification of content. He referred the Pilot to the Department of Health for comment, which said they were interested in offering medically accurate information, which many critics dispute it offers. Scot said it’s clear that they’re not interested in hearing any criticism of the website.

Fr. Roger wrote in his editorial this week about why they seemed to call this site “Maria” talks. Maria is now the 71st most popular name for girls in America, but when we hear it we think of the Blessed Virgin Mary and of the many Hispanic girls from strong Christian families. The choice of “Maria” seems to show they are targeting a specific demographic and some of the content seems to put the girls at odds with the theoretically strongly Catholic parents. It’s quite clear that this site is written so that young girls looking at it are persuaded to think like the Aids Action Committee of Massachusetts, not with the values of their parents.

Also in The Pilot this week is news that the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States is coming next Sunday to a fundraiser for the Redemptoris Mater Archdiocesan Missionary Seminary. Archbishop Pietro Sambi is being honored and is expected to make some remarks. Gregory said the archbishop keeps a fairly low profile, but he’s very inspiring and we are graced to have him. Scot said the seminary is one of the three seminaries in Boston, including St. John and Bl. John XXIII (which is for late vocations). Redemptoris Mater has 18 seminarians, which equal roughly 1.3 of Boston’s seminarians.

Fr. Roger said the nuncio has a dual role when he’s sent to a country by the Pope. Firs,t he is essentially the pope’s ambassador. Second, within the Church he is the pope’s representative to the local Catholic church. One of his duties is to provide the names of potential candidates for becoming bishops. He has a huge impact by prioritizing particular qualities in the priests who are promoted for eventually becoming bishops. Fr. Roger got to know him as a deacon in the Holy Land where Archbishop Sambi was the Apostolic Nuncio to the Holy Land. He is a real mensch with a great sense of humor and is always very inspiring.

The gala dinner is also honoring Jack Shaughnessy, who is a wonderful local businessman who has done so much for the Church in Boston and has been a big supporter of the seminaries. The dinner will be on May 15, 5pm at Lantana’s in Randolph. For details email seminary@rmsboston.org

In more news, Regis College has a new president. The local Catholic college in Weston, Mass., has appointed Dr. Antoinette Hays, who received her bachelor’s degree in nursing from Boston College and received her doctorate from Brandeis. She also has a background in fine arts. Susan, who graduated from Regis, said the school’s nursing program is relatively new and has taken off. Hays is the second lay leader of the college after her predecessor Dr. Mary Jane England.

5th segment:

On Wednesday, Pope Benedict launched a new series of catecheses for his weekly general audiences. The topic is on prayer. Fr. Roger thinks this will be one of the more significant teaching plans of the Pope’s papacy. Pope Benedict has said that the principal job of the Church in leading people to salvation is to be a school of prayer. One of the greatest privileges in life is to be able to converse with God. We don’t know how long this series will go on, but it follows a five-year series he has done on the saints. Now he is embarking on teaching us a pathway to sainthood.

Fr. Roger said Pope Benedict will offer the fruit of his 40-years of teaching and study, building on and amplifying what has been written before, plus new raw materials that he will synthesize and present to us.

Pope Benedict said yesterday prayer is part of the human experience, not just the Christian experience and that he still hopes to learn more about prayer. Susan said he’s modeling for us. Also prayer cannot be taken for granted. Gregory said the Holy Father is saying that in many ways we need to be taught how to pray. Every civilization has prayed, from cavemen on, but in Christ we have been taught to call God our Father.

“That will conclude today’s presentation of The Good Catholic Life. For recordings and photos of today’s show and all previous shows, please visit our website: TheGoodCatholicLife.com. You can also download the app for your iPhone or Android device at WQOM.org to listen to the show wherever you may be. We thank our guests Gregory Tracy and Father Roger Landry. For our co-host, Father Susan Abbott, our Production team of Rick Heil, Anna Johnson, Justin Bell, Dom Bettinelli & George Martell, this is Scot Landry saying thank YOU for listening, God bless you and have a great evening!”

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